We love real people’s stories and the way they showcase friendship, adversity, adventure and most The Human Indomitable Spirit – THIS
Michael Lawrence and Nicholas Cook have been mates since university and went on to create Garage Entertainment aka the Netflix of Action sport. Lawrence has had acclaimed success producing films such as Bra Boys, Fighting Fear, You and Me and TV series The Crew. After working closely with Taylor Steele, an accomplished surf Filmmaker and Director for close to a dozen years and creating 3 films together (This Time Tomorrow + Missing with Mick Fanning + Proximity) they have come together to form This Film Studio.
All three have an abundance of experience but more importantly, they are friends. In fact, it’s their friendship and ability to laugh through the tough times that solidified the union.
THIS is their story…
Name: Michael Lawrence, Nicholas Cook, Taylor Steele
Occupation: This Film studio
Location: Sydney / New York
Tell us about This Film Studio?
THIS. was born at the end of 2017. We had just sold our previous creative and entrepreneurial endeavour of Garage Entertainment & Productions, having built the brand and business over the course of 10 years. But we wanted to keep going and doing more with the community of creatives we have built around us… In summary, I suppose we basically felt there are more stories to tell … more work to be done … more fun to be had!
How was This Film Studio formed?
Nick and I (Mick) met on the first day of University at UTS Sydney, some 30 PLUS years ago and have done a lot of projects together (Bra Boys + Fighting Fear + The CREW # Seasons etc) but we are better known for mortgaging our houses and starting a media business called Garage. Over the decade of running that business, we have met some amazing people that have become part of our business family and one of the main co-conspirators is Filmmaker – Director – Creative, Taylor Steele, After working closely with Taylor for close to a dozen years and having made 3 films with together – This Time Tomorrow + Missing with Mick Fanning + Proximity. Nick and I knew when we started a new company we wanted Taylor there as a creator/founder/co-owner.
As for the THIS. business premise … The three of us collective felt there was a gap in the factual long and short form production market, where we could tell the stories we wanted, but get brands and business more authentically involved from the ground floor of the idea or the project … the three of us individually as a team feel brands & businesses need a new way to tell stories that last and resonate, and we have a proven track record in being brand whispers so let’s start a company specialising and celebrating this new opportunity.
Has storytelling always been the core of your art?
We have calculated that somewhere over 40 million Gopros have been sold across the world and there are over 2.5 Billion Smartphones in the market so with this kind of camera technology in your pocket and at your fingertips the only thing that cuts through is THE STORY. Hence we are all about the story and WHY it needs to be told.
Typically we have found our passion and strength is finding and telling stories that are real-life people/characters and events that are more compelling than fiction. We love real people’s stories and the way they showcase friendship, adversity, adventure and most The Human Indomitable Spirit (THIS.)
What changes have you seen in the industry towards creating content?
Outside the advances in technology – high-speed camera’s, drones, augmented reality, virtual reality – we have traditional broadcasters and publishers with declining viewership, most people’s viewing habits have changed to watch what you want, where you want, when you want on a wide range of devices and screen sizes – we also have more new platforms than we can watch or keep up with Vice, NetFlix, Amazon, Hulu and then the more niche VOD and catch up services.
It’s a brave new world-changing almost daily. You have to embrace change!
As a result, the main opportunity is the financing models of telling stories … who would have thought that today the world’s biggest Energy Drink RED BULL, and the biggest online retail shopping platform AMAZON, have a greater impact on making films and TV than the Hollywood Studios?
WOW. Amazing, Exciting and Scary all at one…the rule is now there are no rules .. the plan is … PLAN NO PLAN!
Has this affected your approach to film content making?
Well for us …. You have to integrate what you are making and how and where it will find an audience and home more comprehensively.
Is it short form or long form? Is it a digital web series or for a social content play? A TV Series traditional broadcast or Video On Demand? Film?
I suppose we spend a lot of time now talking about the ‘why’ we are making and where the audience will be to find it…
When I read this back, this all sounds very wanky and vague, basically, the US pilot season for TV Series in LA used to generate approx 110 new possible TV series. Now with so many new platforms and our lust for content, great stories have never been in more demand…this year over 300 NEW pilots was commissioned…it’s basically bloody exciting!!!!
What did 2017 look like?
2017 was a mixed year … we started the year strongly with launching the Film “Proximity” with Taylor and it did an amazing job at the Australian Box Office and traveled and sold well around the world … this was very rewarding … we then tried to buy Garage back and were unsuccessful for reasons beyond our control … this was hard, frustrating and ultimately very disappointing … we then ended the year really strongly with launching THIS FILM STUDIO with an incredible team, some awesome backers, and partners, and we have secured the rights, and are in development or production across 6 Film and TV Projects.
What does 2018 look like?
The best year ever. So much local support, belief and encouragement and off to LA and Singapore to sell our dream and team.
What is the secret ingredient to success?
You are who you hang out with, so surround yourself with amazing positive creative and resilient people…that…plus hard work is the best friend of luck and success. Also, NO is not a definitive answer!
Who do you admire?
Nick & Taylor….Young creatives and entrepreneurs like you, who do things for PURPOSE NOT PAY! Basically hard working positive, humble, solution-driven people who are out to obviously, and most often not so obviously, want to start a conversation or do something in their actions to change the world for the better, they are our oxygen.
One thing you would like to do but haven’t got around to it yet?
Surf and Ski more…lose 10 kilos.
Anything else you would like to add … or finish with?
When Taylor, Nick and I were walking to our launch event (at the NSW Art Gallery), I said to Taylor, “Who launches a company at 50 years old?”
Taylor’s response “…people who LOVE what they do?”
Photos: Anna Trichet
Interview: Michelle Owen